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Town Meeting, Part V

Bulletin of America's Town Meeting of the Air
Wolcott D. Street, Editor
January 23, 1939, Vol. 4, no. 11


Thank you, Mr. Ernst! Now, so that we may try to get this issue a little more joined, I am going to ask each of the speakers to comment on what has been said by the other speakers in a brief, two-minute summary or rebuttal; and I will start with Mr. Channing Pollock.

Mr. Pollockl: In the first place, with every possible respect to Mr. Browder, I want to cal his attention to one historical fact, and that is that every country that is enjoying the blessings of fascism has got them out of fear of the blessings of communism. He has got the cart before the horse. It is fear of communism that produces fascism, not fear of fascism that produces the other thing. I want to say briefly something about my experiences in universities this year. I will have to tell it briefly, because I have never known how short a time eight minutes can be; and two minutes is just a quarter of eight minutes. Last spring I lunched with the president of one of the greatest universities who told me he was going to resign because he is entirely unable to control the communists element among the students; that those students wee continually fed with propaganda directed from Moscow; that there is no question about that; and that when he tried to stop this thing he was overruled by his board of trustees. He said that no good student could work on a school newspaper without membership in the Young Communist League because those students were expected to filter onto the regular daily newspapers. In connection with the statement that only the Nazi states are contemplating armed aggression, I want to read you two statements that Mr. William Z. Foster, the national chairman of the Communist Party, made before Congress:

"The conquest does not mean capturing the state by parlimentary majority. The violence of the bourgeoisie can be suppressed only by the stern violence of the proletariat." Does that sound like armed insurrection?

At the same meeting, "The workers of this country have only one flag, and that is the Red flag. We are part of the revolutionary class, and capitalist flags are flags of the capitalists; and we can owe no allegiance to them." Does that rebut what was said by Mr. Browder?

Moderator: Now, Mr. Browder, will you comment on what has been said?

Mr. Browder: I am more than pleased with the confirmation of the thesis that I put forward that was given to you by Mr. Matthews. I think he proved the main point that I made. When they carried on propaganda of the Dies Committee against the Communists, they really didn't mean us at all, they meant the New Deal and its whole program of legislative reforms. And when they tell you that Browder is a danger in the country, that is only in order to, over Browder's shoulder, hit President Roosevelt.

As far as the contribution to the discussion by my old friend (if I may so so,), Mr. Ernst, I can only say that he gives a marvelous proof of the fiendish ingenuity of Hitler, who is able to include even my friend, Mr. Ernst, in the anti-Comintern alliance. But I notice this: in a discussion on the subject, "Is America Menaced by Foreign Propaganda?" not one of the other three speakers had a word to say as to the connection between propaganda that menaces America and the international situation where country after country is menaced not only by propaganda but by military invasion. Not one of them mentioned it, and not one of them raised the question, Why is America multiplying its armaments today? The cause of the multiplication of armaments is the cause of the menace of foreign propaganda in America.

Moderator: Now, Mr. Matthews, will you comment?

Mr. Matthews: It would be presumptuous on my part to stand here as a defender of the Dies Committee; but may I point out that the witnesses who appeared before the Dies Committee cannot properly be charged against the Committee itself, including the person who stands before you now? The Committee was handicapped to the very limit of the possibilities of handicap by the Administration at Washington. It was not provided with counsel, as requested by the Congress, which would have enabled the Committee to go more thoroughly over the testimony of witnesses in advance of their appearances, and to smooth out some of the unmistakable evidences of the presence of crackpots in the anti-communist fold.

I wonder if Mr. Ernst has read the report of the Dies Committee to the Congress. The report differs very greatly from the record of the hearings. The report is a summary of what the Committee considered the substantial evidence, substantiated by the usual rules of evidence, and not simply isolated things testified to by crackpot witnesses. This report will, in my opinion, stand up under the closest scrutiny from the standpoint of the rules of evidence employed by an Congressional investigation in the past, and by courts, as a rule; for, whatever we may think personally of the Dies Committee, the country has unmistakably given its verdict and has requested that Martin Dies' Committee stay on the job.

Moderator: Now let us hear from Mr. Morris Ernst.

Mr. Ernst: Let me, in a more friendly way than Earl Browder did, sort of pick on each for a moment. I think that the Dies Committee investigation-and I have read the three printed volumes-failed in the first place because nobody really considered what is menaced. And, in the second place, because they dragged in witnesses-I can't think of anything else to call it; a white girl was put on the stand for no other reason than to say that a colored man had once asked her to dance. I am telling you, it is full of the greatest trash. Now I don't think you ought to defend that kind of a document, no matter who wrote the report.

Now, my playwright friend is a little worried; but they are not all under the bed. The New Deal isn't really going toward dictatorship. Haven't you really played into Earl's hands? Now, as to Earl, I have only one comment. I have come out repeatedly for what I considered vital changes in our economic system. I am willing to take my chances with any economy where there is open and fre debate. I am not willing to tatke any chances on a dictator because I may not get my kind of butcher, and I merely ask Earl Browder here to state one thing. Are you in favor of or opposed to the throttle on the freedom of the press and street-corners and say, 'Down with Stalin!'" then I will take my changes with Earl, on the deliberations of the American people as to the kind of economy they want, and I am willing to go a great way in cutting down the disasters of much of the profit motive.

Moderator: Now we are ready for the questions. Please rise and state your question, but first the name of the person to whom your question is directed.


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